Mangaluru, Jan 2: St Francis Xavier Church, Saverapura, hitherto known as the substation of present Paladka parish, will become an independent new parish from June 7. The 116th parish in the diocese of Mangaluru comprises two villages called Murkoth Palke and Henbettu. Fr Rakesh Mathias who is presently priest in-charge will become the first parish priest of this parish.
Saverapura is situated at a distance of 47 kilometres from Mangaluru. Though it was part of Paladka parish it is at equidistant from the four churches namely Paladka, Belvai, Alangar and Moodbidri.
Fr Francis Xavier D’Souza known as ‘Poki Padryab’, the then parish priest of Belvai parish who realised the need for a church nearby, bought five acres of deserted land at Henbettu in 1973.
Fr Francis, who had the experience of constructing churches like Belvai and Moodbidri, had an intention to build a new church. The land bought by him was closer to Belvai church than Paladka church. But as it came under Paladka parish, he could not raise the church due to technical reasons.
Fr Emmanuel D’Souza (Fr Monnu) who became the parish priest of Belvai church later visited the houses in the area and expressed his desire to build a church. With the zeal of Fr Monnu, the local people started to take turns to dig a well in this land. However the work stopped for some reasons.
Soon after Fr Mathias Pereira became the parish priest of Paladka in 1985, all the dark clouds got cleared. As the priest himself mingled with parishioners to do the hard work, the parishioners of both the villages joined together like one family with enthusiasm. They developed the area by supporting the priest. They cut the forest, dug the well and raised the boundary wall. They also planted coconut saplings and plants.
The 42 families of both the villages during the 75th anniversary of Paladka church in 1988 determined to build the Church under the guidance of Fr Mathias. Dr Basil D’Souza, the then bishop of Mangaluru, laid the foundation stone for the Church dedicated to St Francis Xavier. Fr Mathias Pereira named the area as Saverapura.
The work of building the church progressed quickly under the guidance of Fr Mathias Pereira. People worked hard to complete most of the work of constructing a church. Though the people were not financially sound, they managed to complete the church in three years time. On December 3, 1991, Dr Basil D’Souza inaugurated the church. From that day the registration of parishioners of these two villages of Paladka parish started. All sacraments including last rites are given here with a portion of the land reserved for cemetery.
Fr Mathias Pereira is fondly hailed as the architect of Saverapura.
After raising the church, the people were able to fulfil their spiritual needs in the area. The nuns from Alangar Mount Rosary convent started to come here every week and offer their services. Fr Edwin Pinto, who is the director of Mount Rosary Charitable Institutions, undertook farming and other programmes through his team of social workers. The progress was swift.
Even though the church was built, the parish priest from Paladka found it difficult to come here for the spiritual needs of the people. Fr Norbert Lobo, who came as parish priest of Paladka in 2001 tried for a permanent solution for the problem. His desire was to have a convent nearby and handover the responsibility of the area to some religious priests.
As a result of the efforts of Fr Norbert Lobo, a decision was taken in the parish council meeting of Paladka on February 24, 2008 to hand over the this sub-station to the administration of Redemptorist religious priests. Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza, bishop of Mangaluru gave his permission in April, 2008.
Fr Eugene D’Silva, Redemptorist religious priest was appointed the first in-charge of this sub-station. Later Fr Prem Prakash D’Souza and Fr Rakesh Mathias have served as priests in-charge of this sub-station.
As the area came under the supervision of Redemptorist priests, it has seen drastic developments. Different activities were initiated. Play ground was built. A grotto was constructed for Mother Mary with the help of donors. A podium was prepared for the programmes. Religious life of the people of this area has been rejuvenated through various programmes.
At present there are 53 families belonging to two villages. There is a committee to administer the development of this sub-station. Vincent D’Souza and Severine Crasta are the vice president and secretary respectively. Herald D’Souza and Clara Fernandes are the gurkars of two wards. Other committee members too work hand in hand under the guidance of newly appointed parish priest Fr Rakesh Mathias. Musician Wilson D’Souza is leading the choir and other such programmes for the last several years. Paladka parish priest Fr Ivan Rodrigues has been cooperating in the church activities.
Bishop of Mangaluru Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza will announce Saverapura as a parish at the Eucharistic Celebration on June 7, at 4 pm, on the feast of Corpus Christi.